Twitter Plot Summary: After being betrayed, the A-Team go on the run whilst they try to clear their name. Same as on the telly.
Five Point Summary:
1. So that’s why BA hates to fly.
3. Flying a tank? Only in the A-Team.
4. Hannibal… doesn’t have a plan?
A big screen remake of a much loved television series from years gone by is often met with derision and disgust. In the first instance at least, The A-Team TV series was known for its outrageous plot, larger than life personalities and love of a good montage sequence, so the initial signs were good for a big screen adaptation. Then you look at the cast – Liam Neeson as Hannibal Smith, Sharlto Copley as Murdoch, Bradley Cooper as Face, and MMA star Quinton Jackson as BA Baracus – and you know immediately that it should be able to stand on its own two feet and make a name for itself. Maybe even spawn a franchise if the wind is blowing in the right direction.
The final result is a mixed bag. It’s mostly a lighthearted script, willing to throw in a few amusing side notes and wisecracks suiting the tone of the original show, but also not afraid to go big and bombastic with its action sequences. As this is The A-Team, there are set pieces used here that are unlikely to ever be seen elsewhere, being ridiculously big and ridiculously silly in equal measure. Except maybe the Fast and Furious franchise, come to think of it.
It also wouldn’t be The A-Team if they weren’t constantly being chased by the US government, in this case in the form of Jessica Biel. She also has history with Face, just to mix things up a little. Patrick Wilson also crops up as Agent Lynch (fans of the series will realise the significance of his name), who looks like he’s having a blast in every scene. In a whistle-stop and highly improbable opening sequence we’re introduced to the four central characters, get a brief look at the iconic van, establish BA’s fear of flying and his abject hatred of Murdock (crazy fool!), that Face is somewhat of a lady’s man, and that Hannibal loves it when a plan comes together.
The real problem is sewing the seeds of doubt in Hannibal’s ability to command his men. Unlike the series, after a few twists and turns he finds himself unsure what to do next and it’s up to Face to step up to the plate and formulate a plan by planning at least three steps ahead. I don’t object to this per se, but it needed expanding upon. It does at least give Face something to do beyond chatting up women – in this case he learns all about responsibility and the stress of command – maybe not the qualities you want to see in that character, but Cooper pulls off the cocky charm regardless. Murdock is as you’d expect – absolutely crazy, which Copley is more than capable of displaying.
There’s also the undeniable shadow of Mr T as far as BA Baracus is concerned. Before and during casting there was much talk of him reprising his role, but then I think that may have pushed credulity beyond its already shaky foundations. Then there’s the big question – is Quentin Jackson any good as BA? He certainly looks the part, and in all fairness he’s decent. BA has something of an existential crisis where he refuses to kill anyone (a callback to the A-Team’s mantra from the original TV run), which is nicely handled and fits in with what the character goes through. Despite this slightly softer side, he’s still able to kick serious amounts of shizzle dizzle out of the bad guys when called upon, so we actually have a fully rounded personality rather than someone who just hates flying and enjoys calling Murdock a fool.
As a film in its own right, ignoring the influences of the TV series, it’s a big and bombastic affair, inherent silliness mixed with shades of darkness, which on the whole don’t quite gel together. I understand their reasons for making changes to the tone of the series, in particular to appeal to a more modern audience, but I think it would have stood out a little better if it had gone “full A-Team” rather than making efforts to pander to modern action movie sensibilities. Also, remember to stay after the credits for a nice little surprise. In a way I’m disappointed that there haven’t been attempts to make a sequel, but I’ll settle for this and my DVD box sets of the TV series – it seems to be what nature intended.